Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Nicolae Nistor


The problem investigated in this study was the lack of an appropriate educational setting for gifted and talented students (GATSs) in New Jersey. Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to determine the differences in cognitive abilities between GATSs who participated in project-based learning (PBL), and if so, in homogeneous grouping (HG) or not, and GATSs who did not participate in PBL. The theoretical frameworks used in this study were the theories of learning, creativity, and critical thinking of Vygotsky and Piaget. The research questions addressed differences in GATSs' cognitive abilities as measured by score changes in the scaled verbal, quantitative, nonverbal, and composite cognitive abilities test (COGAT) scores of GATSs who participated in PBL, and if so, in HG, as compared with GATSs who did not participate. In this causal-comparative study, the changes in COGAT scaled scores from 77 GATSs who chose to participate in PBL and 77 GATSs who did not participate were compared. An additional comparison was made within the group of 77 GATSs who learned in homogeneous (n = 34) and heterogenous (n = 43) environments. Due to the small sample size and nonnormality, a Kruskal Wallis test was conducted for each grade level with most results showing a significant difference in COGAT change scores for PBL participants, but not for HG participants. This finding suggests that, from the examined instructional interventions, only PBL has a positive effect on GATSs' cognitive abilities. The results of this study led to the creation of a PBL curriculum plan. This study contributes to positive social change by providing a PBL plan that includes specific examples of what type of instruction might best be suited for GATSs and the fostering of their cognitive abilities.